Justin Trudeau’s weird propensity to slather his face, his body and even his tongue in brown or black makeup provided ample material for low comedy, high dudgeon and genuine thoughtfulness – a teaching moment, if you will. Instead, the multiple revelations were soon hijacked by fakery: fake anger, fake apologies and fake history. There’s been nary a whisper of humour, save perhaps the wag who dubbed Trudeau Canada’s “Prime Minstrel”. Mainly, there’s been weary resignation and rationalization from Liberal supporters. Peter Shawn Taylor takes a balanced look at an immense and fraught subject – blackface – and explains why Trudeau’s crass campaign to save his neck does damage to culture, history, art and freedom.
Author: Peter Shawn Taylor
In few areas do our opinions veer as wildly based purely on our point of view as on the topic of traffic. As pedestrians, we cast the stink-eye at any encroaching driver – even while jaywalking blithely towards a “Don’t Walk” light. As residents, we yell “Slow down!” at every second passing motorist. But once behind the wheel, we fume as traffic crawls, gratuitous signage proliferates and every errand or commute lengthens. This inner fragmentation is like a bright green light for municipal politicians and bureaucrats bent on making life miserable for motorists, for we become all-but incapable of resistance. Peter Shawn Taylor illuminates the campaign in cities across Canada to deliberately clog our streets in the name of safety.
The voracious need for self-abasement among Western elites appears to have outstripped the supply of victimized groups that can become the focus of grovelling, apology and pay-offs. That is one way to read the federal Liberals’ latest apology, which goes beyond merely stretching reality, distorting facts or ignoring historical context. Peter Shawn Taylor reports on how last month’s $20 million payoff to Canada’s Inuit for an alleged sled-dog slaughter half a century ago that never actually happened simply stands the truth on its head.
Official regret – often delivered with a perfectly moistened eye and quavering voice – has been expressed by our prime minister for a seemingly endless parade of old injustices. Native schoolchildren, gays and lesbians, Sikh immigrants, Jewish refugees, six British Columbia chiefs hanged following the Chilcotin War and Inuit populations suffering from tuberculosis have all received a mea culpa from Ottawa. But does such federal self-abasement correspond to what actually happened? Peter Shawn Taylor casts a gimlet eye at Mexico’s efforts to blame 16th century Spain for present-day complaints and finds that the truth sometimes comes down on the side of colonialism.
Tom Flanagan’s new book The Wealth of First Nations comes at a time when more and more Indigenous leaders and communities are embracing the market economy, resource development, and entrepreneurship. Across every social and economic metric, the Makers are outperforming the Takers, which points the way to less dependence, more integration, and even, perhaps, true reconciliation.
The practice of opening public events with a statement acknowledging that the event is occurring on land covered by an Indian treaty really took off after the 2015 Report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Among its 94 “calls to action” is a demand to “repudiate concepts used to justify European sovereignty over Indigenous peoples and lands”. The rite has become ubiquitous in Canadian public life, and now often refers to “unceded” land, even though treaty land was, in fact, ceded to Canada by the chiefs who signed the Treaties. Far from advancing “reconciliation”, writes Peter Shawn Taylor, this fiction is fueling division between those who are constantly told Canada is theirs, and everyone else.
Add 19th century liberal jurist Sir Matthew Baillie Begbie to the ever-growing list of Canadian historical figures whose reputations have been rubbished in the name of “Truth and Reconciliation”. Begbie presided over the trial of six Tsilhqot’in Indians who were executed for the mass murder of 18 white road builders and settlers during British Columbia’s so-called Chilcotin War of 1864. There were plenty of guilty parties on all sides in that fracas, writes Peter Shawn Taylor, but the mass scapegoating of Begbie – most recently in Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s official apology to the Tsilhqot’in killers – is a crime in its own right.
If the oilsands stay in the ground and pipelines and LNG terminals don’t get built, and governments continue to suffocate other natural resource and infrastructure development with excessive taxation and regulation, a lot of Canadians could wind up like the unemployed masses in the U.S. Rust Belt states – and mad enough to vote for a populist demagogue promising to make their lives great again. We’re not there yet, writes Peter Shawn Taylor, but the current rout of capital from Canada’s oilsands represents foreclosure on thousands of high-paying blue collar jobs and raises the risk of a Trumpian political backlash.
Former Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff’s six-year foray into Canadian politics ended in ignominious defeat and was soon followed by his return to Harvard, which validated the lethal Conservative charge that he was “just visiting”. Now he’s in Budapest, running a liberal university. But this time he’s not just visiting, he’s fighting for freedom and democracy against Hungary’s authoritarian nationalist ruler Viktor Orban. And having far more success than he did during his quixotic misadventure in Canadian politics. Peter Shawn Taylor reports.